In Greek mythology the Minotaur was a creature – part man and part bull – who dwelt at the very center of the Cretan Labyrinth. This Labyrinth was an elaborate construction designed specifically to contain the Minotaur. The story of how the Minotaur came to be captured and contained is a story all its own.
It began with King Minos who struggled with his brothers for the right to rule over Crete. Supposedly he prayed to Poseidon, asking the god to send him a snow-white bull as a sign of approval that he (Minos) should be King. The snow white bull was found and was about to be sacrificed in honor of Poseidon, but Minos was unable to kill such a beautiful creature and instead decided to keep it. In order to punish Minos for his failure to give the gods their just reward, Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) saw to it that Pasiphaë (Minos’s wife) fell madly in love with the bull.
In fact, Minos’s wife was so enamored with the bull that she had the craftsman Daedalus make a hollow wooden cow that she could climb into in order to be able to make love to it. The offspring of Pasiphaë and the White Bull was the horrendous Minotaur, a creature part man and part bull that was absolutely ferocious and, not being a natural creature, would devour man for sustenance without hesitation.
Unable to contain the creature, King Minos had Daedalus create a container for the beast, and the result of Daedalus’ work was the Labyrinth; a maze of such cunning and complexity that no one could find their way in and back again and which served to keep the beast from escaping. As a tribute to the gods (and to keep the beast satisfied) each year virgins from the surrounding countryside were fed to the beast in order to keep it satiated.
The Beast in the Center
Just like the mythological Labyrinth, each of us has our own beast at the center of the Labyrinth that makes up the illusions with which we have surrounded ourselves. Only by braving the maze and, stripping away the illusions we call reality, can we penetrate to the center of our own Labyrinth and, like Theseus, finally face the Minotaur.
Created from our fears and insecurities, our personal Minotaur is a fearsome beast for it is created from the very things that we fear the most; from those things about ourselves that we do not want to admit exist in the darkest places of our hearts. It is our shadow self; the part of ourselves that we continually deny. Only when we can find the courage within ourselves to face those things about ourselves that we fear the most can we stand eye-to-eye with the beast and accept it as part of who and what we are.
Only when we realize that the beast does not define us, but instead makes us complete can we move past this darkness of the heart and emerge into the pure light of awareness.